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Telling The Customer “No” In The Name Of Culinary Perfection

Culinary PerfectionFor most restaurateurs saying no to a customer is something you just don’t do.  Being accommodating is an integral part of what service businesses like restaurants do, and therefore the customer gets what the customer wants.

As the New York Times reported recently, a surprising number of restaurants in New York have no problem telling a customer no – as long as it serves a higher artistic purpose.

Some examples include:

  • A bagel shop that will not toast your bagel for love or money
  • A bistro famous for its fries does not serve ketchup
  • One restaurant serves their burgers one of two ways: with or without Roquefort cheese

The reason for putting limits on customer preferences is the same in each one of these establishments: special requests compromise the original vision for the taste and presentation of the dish.

In most cases, especially in a place as saturated as New York City is with restaurants, these picky chefs can get away with imposing some ground rules on their patrons.  That’s because there’s a large pool of people who have an enormous amount of choice in a small area when it comes to eating out.  If you don’t like go next door.  There’s enough people here who do.

That feeling of exclusivity actually appeals to a lot of guests, and probably works in the chef’s favor, at least in an environment like New York City.

For the rest of the country, however, where the pool of customers is smaller and the amount of choices fewer, restaurants must and do play the role of catch-all.  The hard reality is that turning people away because they don’t subscribe to your vision of culinary perfection is typically bad for business.

And when business is bad there’s no money to prepare perfect dishes.

About Greg McGuire

Greg has blogged about the food service industry for years and has been published in industry magazines, like Independent Restaurateur and industry blogs like Restaurant SmartBrief. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons and enjoys reading, live music, and the great outdoors.

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